Honoring God by Honoring Your Parents

The word “Honor” literally means “to make heavy.” When my kids are stressing me out and I drown my stress in ice cream, I somehow don’t think this is what the Bible had in mind by being honored by my kids. What does it mean to honor your parents? This post serves as a general summary of the fifth commandment.

Cardboard figures of the family on opened book

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Worth Your Time 2/27/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

Does Your Youth Ministry Mess With Christ’s Bride by Jon Nielson (The Gospel Coalition)
“Youth pastors, directors, and workers need to be constantly called back to a focus on substantive, biblical, and gospel-centered ministry to young people, so that they do not fall prey to the gleam of a thriving and fun youth ministry that does not contribute to lasting kingdom fruit.”

Your Children are Looking at Pornography. How are you Responding? by Nicholas Black (Harvest USA)
“Pornography is anything the heart uses to find sexual expression outside of God’s intended design for relational intimacy. It is anything that tempts and corrupts the human heart into desiring sensual pleasure in sinful ways. By this definition, we live in a pornographic culture.”

Dropouts and Disciples: How Many Students are Really Leaving the Church? by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today)
“In most cases, our surveys show a lack of intentionality in dropping out. Eighty percent of young people who dropped out of church said they did not plan to do so during high school. It’s not that most rejected the church. Our teenagers aren’t primarily leaving because they have significant disagreements with their theological upbringing or out of some sense of rebellion. For the most part, they simply lose track of the church and stop seeing it as important to their life.”

Revealed: The Science Behind Teenage Laziness by Louise Carpenter (The Telegraph)
“She is passionate, for example, about the madness of an 8.30/9am school start time. ‘It’s the middle of the night for a teenager!’ she says. Teenagers release melatonin (the sleepy hormone) a couple of hours later in the day than adults and so are able to stay up later, but then they need more sleep in the morning. ‘It’s like getting us up at 5.30am,’ Blakemore elaborates. Teenagers experience ‘social jet-lag’ as a result, hence the long lie-ins at the weekends (this is absolutely not slothfulness, she says, but their bodies catching up after being forced to awaken so early).”

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life by Jon Ronson (The New York Times Reporter)
“Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.”

Dadvertising at the Super Bowl by Mike McGarry (Rooted Ministries… yes, this is a shameless plug)
“A father’s love is powerful because it reflects the love and acceptance we were created to enjoy in our Heavenly Father, and when the Church steps into a kid’s life to care for him or her, it is a tangible expression of the adoption which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.”

How Do You Use Tech & Social Media?

Tech is constantly changing and it’s always an uphill climb to keep up to date on how people communicate and like to be communicated with. I also think it’s interesting to see the differences between teenagers and their parents in tech/media use. This blog post here got me thinking, “I wonder if the students at EBC would agree and say the same thing?”

As a pastor, I really want to do my best to communicate with you the best way possible, so would you please take just a few minutes to fill out the short survey below. Please only answer the questions that are for you.

(FYI: I’m not planning on stalking places like Snapchat and whatever based off this survey, I’m just curious about what’s being used and how many people use it.)

Posts You Should Read

Maybe this will become a semi-regular feature on this blog, maybe it won’t… but here’s a list of blog posts and articles I’ve read (some carefully, some quickly) and found helpful, insightful, convicting, etc.

The Message of the Bible in 221 Words – Here’s an excellent and brief explanation of what the Bible is all about by DA Carson.  If we could all learn how to explain the Story of the Bible in an understandable way that connects the OT & NT I think we’d all be better off… this article will help you begin to do that.

A Call to Remember –  I love Church History, here’s Kevin DeYoung’s explanation why we need to remember our history as Christians.

4 Reasons to Keep Bikini Pictures off FaceBook – This one’s for teen girls and their parents.  The Summer is coming… that means a whole bunch of teen girls will be posting pictures of themselves and their friends in their bathingsuits online for the world to see.  Here are four reasons why that’s not such a good idea.  This one’s worth sharing (probably via private message, posting it on someone’s profile page might come off as a bit judgmental).

Middle School: A Crucial Parenting Moment – This one’s from the Boston Globe, and I’m really thankful for the post.  I often refer to Middle School as the time to fire-proof teenagers, and High School as the time when you need to put fires out.  If teens are fireproofed well in Middle School there will be way fewer fires.  This article says something similar and relates it to sexual behavior and other risky behaviors.  Gone are the days when we can assume Middle Schoolers are too young and innocent to be discussing sex, drugs, etc. with… if we avoid those conversations we all lose.

Parents’ Guide to Kids and Cell Phones – The tagline here is “Everything you need to know before you buy your kid a cell phone.”  This article addresses some really good questions/issues to consider before getting your son/daughter their first cell phone.

The Digital Divide: How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents – This is a PDF produced by McAffee (the internet security program) to help inform parents about their teens’ online behavior.  Wow, there’s a TON of information in here that could be overwhelming, but if we want to know what teenagers are really doing online then we should pay attention!

Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again) & Ministry to Parents

Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again) by Wayne Rice is one of the best Youth Ministry books I’ve read in years.  Rice has been credited as the “co-founder” of American Youth Ministry (along with Mike Yaconelli), so he certainly has the experience, wisdom, and credibility to provide such a critique of modern-day Youth Ministry.  Not only was did the book provide many behind-the-scenes looks at the history of Youth Specialties, but it raised many good and hard questions that every youth worker should be asking.  Despite being a fairly slow reader, even I read it in only three days – I just couldn’t put it down and kept picking it up whenever I had an extra 15 minutes.

It seems like one of the most “trendy” topics today in youth ministry is ministry to parents, and yet, it doesn’t really seem like anyone knows how to actually do it effectively.  I’ve read a fair number of books lately on churches (youth ministries in particular) and parents partnering together, and I think this book makes one of the best and most persuasive cases for how important it is for youth ministries to be partnering with parents.

Just yesterday on the Youth Ministry 360 Blog, Andy Blanks asks a great question (which has prompted this book review).  Here’s his question:

As youth workers, should the burden fall on us to train and equip our students’ parents to lead them in discipleship?

I think Rice’s book addresses this from a number of perspectives.  Ultimately, I’m convinced that the church ought to be equipping parents to disciple their children/teens.  Unfortunately, too often discipleship is often a litany of unstructured Bible-Studies which focus simply on the adults and rarely make the jump to help parents be equipped to teach and discuss such important truths with their children.  Therefore, many youth workers feel that if they don’t equip parents to disciple their teens, who will?

Here are a number of my favorite quotations from Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again):

“I have all the respect in the world for youth workers in the church, but I’ve become more and more convinced over the years that God never gave to youth workers the responsibility for making disciples of other people’s kids.” (p.24)

“It’s not youth ministry’s fault that we’re losing so many kids. …While youth ministry may serve as a convenient scape-goat, it is not the culprit here.” (p.11)

“That our youth are not getting the message is not necessarily because they haven’t heard it or aren’t being taught it.  But perhaps we’re sending other messages to teenagers that are just coming across a lot louder and clearer than the message we want them to hear.  The wholesale conversion of our teenager to a religion like MTD may be nothing more than the unintended result of a systematic weakness in how we pass faith on to the next generation.” (p. 67)

“The mistake we made in the past wasn’t so much the kind of programs we ran but in our reliance on them to keep kids coming to our youth groups.  Programs may keep kids coming, but they won’t keep them connected.  Truth is, they may even be counter-productive.” (p.101)

“I believe that the primary role of the youth pastor today should be focused more on equipping adults rather than teenagers.  If we truly want better long-term results and a youth ministry that won’t collapse when we leave, we must learn to work with adults – especially parents.” (p.124)

“I know that senior pastors usually have their plates full, but the vision and mission for youth ministry in a local church must come from the top.” (p.149)

“The church and the family are two of the most powerful and important institutions on the earth, both of them ordained by God to preserve and pass on the faith to each generation.  If we can get them working together in harmony, kids are not only going to be more likely to adopt the faith of their parents but hang onto it long after they leave home.” (p.170)

“Many churches, in their efforts to be relevant and responsive to the needs of young adults have marginalized and abandoned their old folks. … What bothers me is that the young people of the church are missing out on the incredible vitality and wisdom and spiritual strength of people like my aunt Mabel and other members of her generation who are no longer considered an important part of the church.” (p.181-2)

I know that’s a lot, but it provides a great snapshot to tell you why the whole book is worth the $12 and the time you’ll invest in reading it.  Rice’s reflections on the past four decades of youth ministry and the questions he asks about its future are significant for both youth workers, parents, and all church-leaders to consider.  Seriously, just read the book, you’ll be glad you did.

Poll: How Often Does Your Family Eat Together?

What is Cellular Purity?

Below is a great video on the connection between cell phones and pornography, this is a “must watch” for every parent and youth worker!

For more posts on Sexual Purity and Moral Boundaries check these links out:

  • Previous post I’ve written entitled “Struggling against porn
  • Pornography Harms” is the name of a new site devoted to helpful, informative, credible information regarding the harmfulness of pornography.  Great site!
  • Link for Teens: Teens Against Porn – this is a GREAT site that deals with the allure and the effects of pornography while giving you encouragement that you’re not alone and that through Christ you can overcome this temptation!
  • Link for Parents: The Porn Talk – don’t know how to talk to your son or daughter about sex and pornography?  Check this site out for some ideas and resources.